Zionism. Homosexuality. Nazism. War. America. Terrorism. Abortion. Feminism. Communism.
What do these terms have in common? They each possess the rare quality of eliciting anger in the general public, which itself is nothing special. However, the power of these words is that regardless of what is said about them, a visible slice of the population will be offended.
Some may see this as a sign of progress, where society is so passive that controversial ideas are best avoided. What many more will likely see is that ours is a society so frightened of causing offence that many key issues are being pushed to the extremes of public focus at the times when they need to be thrust to the forefront of public debate.
Our social sensitivity to the psychological discomfort of those around us is crippling. The most visible manifestation of this has been political correctness. Why is it that feminist groups insist on rewriting obviously male-biased scripture to suit their gender views? Biblical texts have been gender biased for thousands of years, and women have managed to cope. If you want a gender-neutral faith, the mainstream monotheists are not for you.
The point here is that society as a whole should generally learn to take offence with grace. I can personally guarantee that no matter how far society progresses some minority will always be offended by some majority, and vice versa. There will always be a social equivalent of modern extreme feminism, or obese traveller discount lobby groups. It is not entirely beyond possibility to see the day when individual letters will be banned, as they represent offensive phallic symbolism to certain socially sensitive members of our culture.
What is needed is a sort of cultural revolution, whereby society as a whole gets a large slap upside the head and is told to grow up.
For example, if I were confronted with the issue of obese flyers demanding single flyer rates for what is in effect a two seat passenger, I would gleefully remind said titan (please note the disregard for political correctness) that their weight carries with it certain consequences. Children will point and laugh, designer clothes will not fit, your food bill will be large, and you will not be able to fit into a single seat of an aircraft. Yes, it's a sad tale, but the burden of equality rests with the individual and not the airlines. If Richard Simmons can do it, so can you.
Not that there aren't genuine causes of social concern out there. Many of the terms at the beginning of this article require serious discussion. However, that discussion will never transpire in a society too afraid to offend one group or another. The key here is to understand that what people say will inevitably anger you at some point, but you may often find they are correct. If you are unwilling to have your beliefs so offended, then it is you, good sir or madam, that represents the greatest danger to our social well being.